Be decision-makers, ex-New Zealand PM Clark urges youth

'You have to start looking at how you can enter the political structures, how you will bring your ideas into them,' former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark tells young citizens

Jodesz Gavilan

Published: 8:45 PM September 22, 2019

Updated: 9:06 PM September 22, 2019

FOR THE CHILDREN. Youth join the Global Climate Strike. Photo by Dom Aumentado/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark urged the youth to become highly involved in the decision-making process, aside from sharing their views and pushing for their ideas.

In an interview with Rappler executive editor Maria Ressa on Friday, September 20, Clark said young citizens should see how they can bring their ideas to another level.

"You have to start looking at how you can enter the political structures, how you will bring your ideas into them, and make sure you're part of the decision-making," she said.

The former United Nations Development Programme administrator also cautioned against being passive, saying that the youth should not be there "just with your nose pressed to the glass, saying, 'Please do this for us.'"

"You have to be in there as decision-makers," she said.

Clark cited the climate change movement and how the youth is at the forefront of the fight for climate justice, with 16-year-old Greta Thunberg leading climate strikes. (READ: 'Millions' protest in youth-led global climate strike)

Thunberg, who is from Sweden, joined hundreds of young activists for a youth climate summit at the United Nations on Saturday, September 21, a day after students skipped school to join a global strike.

They called out older generations for doing too little to address environmental problems. (READ: From the streets to the summit: Young climate leaders mobilize at UN)

The "cascading collapse of biodiversity" brought about by climate change is one of the concerns Clark pointed out, as it can be a matter of life and death for the poorest of the poor "whose sustenance depends on the health of natural ecosystems."

Clark, who served as prime minister of New Zealand from 1999 to 2008, said the movement for climate justice is a good example of how to mobilize and harness social media at the same time.

"I say that where governments are missing in action, get on and do it at other levels," she said.

"Regardless of what the leaders say, there are other forces moving and we have to keep civil society highly mobilized."

The UN is set to hold the 2019 United Nations Climate Action Summit on Monday, September 23. The following day, on Tuesday, September 24, world leaders will begin addressing the UN General Assembly. –